Family, friends mark his 22nd birthday today
But on Jan. 3, 2012, his life was cut short when the vehicle in which he was a passenger crashed on Highway 69. The crash also claimed the lives of Jessica Chamberland, Alyssa McKeown and Torry McIntyre. Connor Kennedy, who was also a passenger in the vehicle, survived.
Since that day, Cole's parents, James and Terry-Anne Howard, have been trying to live their lives knowing that, in the natural order of things, parents should never have to bury their children. James said there will never be closure having lost his son, and there isn't a day that goes by when he doesn't talk about Cole.
To mark Cole's birthday, the Howards will release balloons in his memory. Cole was a fan of the anti-nuclear protest song “99 Red Balloons” by the German band Nena, James said. Friends and family members will gather at the Howard's home to join in the event.
James and Terry-Anne will also unveil a metal sculpture of Cole playing the drums. It was built by Massey resident Laval Bouchard, and it's “bang on, right down to Cole playing the drums without shoes,” James said.
Cole was the drummer in the metal band Sanctuaries.
On Wednesday, James will take the sculpture to the crash site on Highway 69 and leave it there. Members of the band will help place the piece, which will eventually be coated in oil to protect it from the elements. James, who visits the crash site several times a year, said he hopes people will respect it and not damage it.
The sculpture has receive some mixed reviews from those who have already seen it, James said, with people often asking why he would want a constant reminder of the pain of losing his son.
“This is therapy for me,” James said. “We are just a mother and a father trying to keep their son's memory alive. Every day, I have to just keep pushing, and this is me pushing.”
And, perhaps it might act as a message to other drivers to slow down, he said.
Last year on Cole's birthday, James, Terry-Anne and other family members travelled to Abbey Road in London, England, where they spread some of Cole's ashes. The rest of Cole's ashes are contained within a drum-style urn in the Howard household.